A Beginner’s Guide to Dominoes

Players in a domino game compete to lay down all of their tiles first. Each domino tile features a series of spots or pips on one side, and is blank or identically patterned on the other. These matching sides are referred to as ends.

Each player draws a hand of seven dominoes. The player who draws the highest double goes first.


Dominoes are widely believed to have originated in the 12th century in China, but their exact origin is uncertain. Their European equivalent, the 28-tile set, appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 18th Century, possibly through French prisoners of war.

The name domino probably derives from the Latin word dominus, which denoted a hood worn by priests. It later referred to a hooded cap or mask worn at masquerades.

The game is popular in many parts of the world. It is not surprising that some of the rules differ from country to country. Similarly, some games have been developed independently in different parts of the world. This has resulted in a variety of strategies, tile starts, and designs. Some of these variations are quite different from one another.


There are many different domino games, but some basic rules are common to most of them. Players should agree on a score goal before playing, and most variations play until the player with the lowest total count wins.

The game begins by shuffling the tiles and distributing them to the players. Each player is dealt seven tiles, with the highest double starting the first hand.

Each player in turn must place a tile on the table, positioning it so that one end of the open side matches an adjacent tile. When this is done, a line of dominoes is formed. This line is called the layout, string or line of play. Depending on the rules of the particular game, this can also be referred to as the lead or the set.


There are many variations of domino games, each with slightly different rules. These games go by different names but usually have very similar, and often identical, rules. For example, a game that requires the highest double may be called “double-six?” or “double-four?” In most games the players draw a number of tiles from the stock to form their hands according to the rules of the game.

The goal of the game is to make a line, or train, of dominoes that match at one end and extend outward. Each player scores points for adding a tile to the line that has the same total number of pips as the open end of another domino in play. For example, a double four at one end and three at the other makes nine, which is divisible by five and three and therefore scores four points.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, having the right domino equipment makes all the difference. Besides the domino set itself, a good quality table is also crucial.

Many modern domino sets are made of plastics, but there are also a variety of other materials. For example, stone dominoes offer a luxury look and feel. They can be quite expensive though.

Other popular options are wood dominoes. Some are mass-produced and others are handcrafted by real woodworkers. They are often layered in different woods and finely finished with layers of lacquer. These are considered to be works of art and are usually much more expensive than other types of dominoes. Nevertheless, they have a smoother surface for better gripping and are well-suited to building lines and fields.


In some games the scoring system depends on the number of dominoes remaining in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or game. For example, the score may be computed as a multiple of five. This scoring method is also known as “dominoing.”

Each domino has two matching ends. Each end has a different value, which is called its rank or weight. The ranks vary from six pips to none or blank.

Before players can draw their hands, the dominoes must be shuffled and mixed up. Then, the players draw one domino each to determine who plays first. Once this is determined, play proceeds clockwise. Some games have a predetermined number of rounds, while others are played until a certain point limit is reached.

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